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Brownlee, Kimberley, and . Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience

2012, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Comment: An original approach to the morality of civil disobedience and the question of what protections should be enshrined in law for adherence to the dictates of one's conscience. Particularly interesting because the author argues that a stronger case can be made for permitting and protecting public civil disobedience than can be made for private conscientious objection.

Coombe, Rosemary J., and . The Properties of Culture and the Politics of Possessing Identity: Native Claims in the Cultural Appropriation Controversy.

1993, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 6(2): 249-285.

Abstract: The West has created categories of property, including intellectual property, which divides peoples and things according to the same colonizing discourses of possessive individualism that historically disentitled and disenfranchised Native peoples in North America. These categories are often presented as one or both of neutral and natural, and often racialized. The commodification and removal of land from people’s social relations which inform Western valuations of cultural value and human beings living in communities represents only one particular, partial way of categorizing the world. Legal and cultural manifestations of authorship, culture, and property are contingent upon Enlightenment and Romantic notions built upon a colonial foundation. I will argue that the law rips apart what First Nations peoples view as integrally and relationally joined, but traditional Western understandings of culture, identity, and property are provoked, challenged, and undermined by the concept of Aboriginal Title in a fashion that is both necessary and long overdue.

Comment: In this wide-ranging essay, Coombe situates debates about cultural appropriation in the context of colonial power dynamics. She discusses both appropriation of styles and stories as well as alienation of material cultural property. In particular, she criticizes the appeal to Western conceptions of property in these debates, and questions whether Native identity and autonomy can be appropriately protected by subsuming Native intangible cultural property claims under Western frameworks for intellectual property. This is a long and challenging essay, best used for more advanced courses. Alternative texts that capture some of the ideas here include Loretta Todd's "Notes on Appropriation" (on which Coombe draws), or, for a text that situates some of these ideas in the literature on epistemic injustice, see Erich Hatala Matthes, "Cultural Appropriation without Cultural Essentialism?".

Ferracioli, Luara, and . The Appeal and Danger of a New Refugee Convention

2014, Social Theory and Practice, 40 (1): 123-144.

Abstract: It is widely held that the current refugee Convention is inadequate with respect to its specification of who counts as a refugee and in its assignment of responsibility concerning refugees to states. At the same time, there is substantial agreement among scholars that the negotiation of a new Convention would lead states to extricate themselves from previously assumed responsibilities rather than sign on to a set of more desirable legal norms. In this paper, I argue that states should ultimately negotiate a new Convention, but that first they must alleviate the institutional and motivational constraints that make progress currently unattainable.

Comment: This text provides a clear introduction to the philosophical treatment of the 1951 Refugee Convention. It criticises contemporary international law concerning refugees and asylum, and discusses the constraints to feasability for a new legal regime. This text would work well as an introduction to the philosophical issues involved in granting refugee status, or within a specialized context concerning the right to immigrate/migrate. It would also have a place in a class on human rights that covered greivous human rights violations and their remedy.

Gilbert, Margaret, and . A Theory of Political Obligation: Membership, Commitment and the Bonds of Society

2008, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher: Does one have special obligations to support the political institutions of one’s own country precisely because it is one’s own? In short, does one have political obligations? This book argues for an affirmative answer, construing one’s country as a political society of which one is a member, and a political society as a special type of social group. The obligations in question are not moral requirements derived from general moral principles. They come, rather, from one’s participation in a special kind of commitment: a joint commitment. This theory is referred to as the plural subject theory of political obligation since, by the author’s definition, those who are party to any joint commitment constitute a plural subject of some action in a broad sense of the term. Several alternative theories are compared and contrasted with plural subject theory, with a particular focus on the most famous — actual contract theory — according to which membership in a political society is a matter of participation in an agreement. The book offers plural subject accounts of both social rules and everyday agreements, and includes discussion of political authority and punishment.

Comment: Some chapters in Part 1 would work very nicely as introductory reading to the problem of political obligation. As the book progresses it homes in on the theory of social groups and Gilbert's theory of political obligation as joint commitment. As such, the later chapters are more suited to specialised readings.

Hurd, Heidi, and . The Moral Magic of Consent

1996, Legal Theory 2(2): 121-146.

Abstract: We regularly wield powers that, upon close scrutiny, appear remarkably magical. By sheer exercise of will, we bring into existence things that have never existed before. With but a nod, we effect the disappearance of things that have long served as barriers to the actions of others. And, by mere resolve, we generate things that pose significant obstacles to others’ exercise of liberty. What is the nature of these things that we create and destroy by our mere decision to do so? The answer: the rights and obligations of others. And by what seemingly magical means do we alter these rights and obligations? By making promises and issuing or revoking consent When we make promises, we generate obligations for ourselves, and when we give consent, we create rights for others. Since the rights and obligations that are affected by means of promising and consenting largely define the boundaries of permissible action, our exercise of these seemingly magical powers can significantly affect the lives and liberties of others

Comment: Good introduction to the topic of consent as it makes clear both how strange it is as a power and how pervasive it is in our moral practices. Goes on to provide an interesting argument for consent as a subjective mental state and offers an account of what that might be. Could support a lecture or seminar on consent, or would make good further reading if the topic is only touched on briefly.

Pineau, Lois, and . Date Rape: A Feminist Analysis

1989, Law and Philosophy 8 (2): 217-243.

Abstract: This paper shows how the mythology surrounding rape enters into a criterion of reasonableness which operates through the legal system to make women vulnerable to unscrupulous victimization. It explores the possibility for changes in legal procedures and presumptions that would better serve women’s interests and leave them less vulnerable to sexual violence. This requires that we reformulate the criterion of consent in terms of what is reasonable from a woman’s point of view.

Comment: This text provides an overview of the the legal status of "date rape" in the US. It would fit well in a class covering the idea of mens rea and/or actus reus - such as a class on philosophy of law. It would also be of use in a class covering the concept of consent, rape and sexual violence, or the meaning of being 'reasonable.'

Stark, Cynthia A., and . Hypothetical Consent and Justification

2000, Journal of Philosophy 97 (6): 313-334.

Introduction: The social-contract tradition in moral and political thought can be loosely characterized as an approach to justification based on the idea of rational agreement. This tradition contains a variety of theories that are put to a number of uses. My exclusive focus here will be contract views that rely upon hypothetical, as opposed to actual, consent. My main objective is to defend hypothetical-consent theories against what I call the standard indictment: the claim that hypothetical consent cannot give rise to obligation. I begin by explaining the standard indictment in more detail; next, I argue that the standard indictment does not apply to moral, as contrasted with, political contractarianism; finally, I argue that, on a certain understanding of the relation between political legitimacy and political obligation, the standard indictment does not count against political contractarianism.

Comment: Defends the significance of hypothetical consent as the standard of justification appropriate for establishing moral obligation in a broadly constructivist view. Very useful as specialised or further reading on moral and political obligation.